Monday, April 29, 2013

Rim Wear

It's not just brake pads that wear out!

Worn Rim
Just seen this picture which is frightening. A lot of cyclist seem to be unaware that rims wear out as well!

Rim Wear Link

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Don Elms tells me Aldi have cycling stuff on Thursday May 2, see :


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Times plea

Masthead Cities fit for cycling button
Dear Reader
This is a landmark day for cycling in Britain. We would not have got this far without your invaluable support, but we need your help again.
Today, an unprecedented House of Commons inquiry publishes the Get Britain Cycling report, making 18 bold recommendations which call on the Government to make Britain's streets safer and more inviting for cyclists.
Please help us put pressure on the Government by signing this online petition, calling on the Prime Minister to implement the report's recommendations:
  • Create an annual cycling budget equivalent to £10 per head of population - an increase on the current spend of less than £2 per person.
  • Fund cycling through health, education, sport and business budgets as well as transport budgets - recognising the contribution cycling makes to other sectors.
  • Appoint a national Cycling Champion.
  • Create a cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan with annual progress reports.
  • Create a statutory requirement for all new housing, business and transport developments to consider the needs of cyclists and pedestrians during the planning stage.
  • Extend 20mph zones in towns and consider 40mph limits on many rural lanes.
  • Create cycle routes running alongside trunk road and motorway corridors.
  • Limit the use of HGVs on busy urban streets at peak hours.
  • Provide cycle training at all primary and secondary schools.
  • Increase the proportion of journeys made by bike from 2% in 2011 to 10% in 2025 and 25% by 2050.
Thank you for your invaluable support over the last year, please remember to take 2 minutes to sign the petition. You can read all about the Get Britain Cycling report on our free campaign page at
John Witherow Signature
John Witherow
Editor of The Times

A Group - 24 April, 2013

Shepperton - Littleworth Common - Sunbury
We seek him here, we seek him there......

A sunny line-up after lunch at the Jolly Woodman
before setting off through Burnham Beeches.

A ride 24 April - Littleworth Common

Sunshine! It really felt that spring had arrived with clear skies and warm temperatures. A good crowd of people were sitting out on the patio at Shepperton, enjoying the unseasonal weather. (Or was it the rest of spring that was unseasonal?). I had planned a slightly longer than usual trip to Burnham Beeches so we set off fairly promptly, heading through Chertsey and along the Surrey Cycleway with a very short piece of off-road especially for Jeff, to Egham, where we had a choice of going over or round Tite Hill to Windsor.

Being the A group we went over, skirting the Great Park and zooming down Crimp Hill, giving a scare to two workmen who were mending potholes. Through Windsor town centre where the castle was gleaming in the sunlight(!), over the river and through Eton Wick, against a fresh breeze, to Dorney and Burnham. Pressing Northwards we continued up the steady incline of Taplow Common Road, past Cliveden to our destination of the Jolly Woodman at Littleworth Common.

Still sunny! and warm from our exertions, we enjoyed a good spread of food in the pub garden. It was tempting to linger but we had a fair distance to travel on our return, so we set off through tiny roads and tracks through Burnham Beeches, down to Farnham Royal and neatly through Slough on a dead-straight cycle track which must have been an old railway line. Frank was on his tricycle and when I say it was dead straight, it was punctuated by chicane-like features where a left-right wiggle was required. I worried that the trike might have been too wide, but Frank made it look easy.

The last part of Slough was past the giant Horlicks factory near the railway, a sign of Britain's past, and the smaller Burger King head office near the A4, hopefully not a portent of our future. Crossing the A4 in three groups due to the very short 'green' time of the lights, we eventually made it to the Jubilee river after being cheered on by hordes of school children who no doubt thought that Bradley Wiggins et al were among our number. From there it was urban riding through Datchet, Wraysbury, Staines, Laleham and Shepperton en route to the Walled Garden at Sun!bury for tea and generous portions of cake. 43 miles from elevenses so some would have clocked 70 miles for the day.

Easy Riders - 24th April

Fuzz led the Easy Riders from the Shepperton Greeno Centre to the pub by Hampton Court Bridge:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The B's 24/4/13

The B's at the top of Priest Hill
Waiting outside the Greeno Centre for the A's to depart and to see who was left it came as a bit of a shock to realise the there were 29 B's on this ride! The Weather had smiled on us and we headed North up Old Charlton Lane and across the cyclable foot bridge and into Nutty Lane, Charlton Lane, Charlton road and Ashford road into Ashford where the last half a dozen of the group got unhitched from the main body but were soon back in the fold.

Across the A30 and through Stanwell Moor and the under passes and onto the Horton Road at Poyle. Datchet soon arrived and on into Eton road, Slough road and onto the Jubilee river cycle track.

As the group was so big there were inevitable delays at junctions and time was marching on. Instead of continuing on to Dorney I took the alley that leads into Bell lane and a right and across the common to the river path and onto Eton for Lunch at the Watermans Arms. There were few customers so we were soon served and relaxing in the Sunny garden and awaiting our lunch and waited and waited! The last of our group (around 20 dined at the pub) got their vittals an hour after arriving! And I did pre-warn the pub. The food was good when it did arrive.

We left after 2:30 and headed across the bridge into Windsor and the left through to Datchet and old Windsor. As the group had spent so long Sunning themselves over lunch I gave them the treat of Priest hill. Through Englfield Green and down Prune hill and the back road/lane to Thorpe and onto Cherstey and Docket Eddy lane to tea at Shepperton lock. Having missed the Sun this year it was hard to leave the pleasant surroundings and company and wend our way home.

B Group - 24th April - maps

Maps for Tony's anticlockwise route from Shepperton to Eton for lunch (16.8 miles) and back to Shepperton Lock for Tea on the Lawn (15 miles)

Monday, April 22, 2013

South Downs YH

Evening meal at South Downs Youth Hostel, which does have a drinks licence!

Hostel trip - Thursday 18 April

From South Downs Hostel to Truleigh Hill is only about 25 miles direct so a detour to the east was included to make a full day and balance the urban coast with some rural delights. We were almost ready to go when the missing key gremlin struck. The offending item was finally traced to its rightful place in spite of having "already checked there"!! A strong breeze was blowing in from the sea and Tony reported dire predictions of gales from the BBC. So with the wind behind us we headed north up the A26 to Beddingham and then via Glynde to Laughton. Now we turned south through Ripe and past Berwick station, then down the lane to Litlington where we stopped for 11s at the Tea Gardens. Faced with a choice of sun and wind or shade and calm we went indoors. Onwards to Exceat and then right onto the A259 towards Seaford. Until now we had only brief encounters with the wind but it stopped us in our tracks as we tried to ride onto the front at Seaford. An uncomforable buffetting followed until we left the sea for the cycle track to Newhaven. By now it was already 1pm and a planned lunch at Rottingdean seemed a challenge. Fortunately Tony knew of the Luna Rossa cafe where Mussels and Chips and other delights were on offer. Suitably refreshed we followed Sustrans 2 up an ever steepening Gibbon Road to join The Highway. High, yes, but no highway except in Sustrans eyes. This rutted lane brought us to Peacehaven where we followed suburban streets to eventually rejoin the A259. Now the trial by wind really began and the descent to Saltdean was barely rideable. Here the undercliff route to Brighton was deemed safer than trying to ride a clifftop bus lane in a gale. All thoughts of Shoreham Airport were abandoned and we had tea in Hove before finding a calmer back street route through Portslade. The tired legs still had to face the three mile climb to the hostel and it was 6pm when we arrived after the windiest ride most had experienced in a long time.


Hostel trip 17 - 19 April

From Henfold I led Pam, Tony H, Ray, Vic, Tim, Brian and Ed south through Newdigate, Rusper, Faygate, Colgate and Pease Pottage where Ian rang to say he was at our lunch venue, The Jolly Tanners at Staplefield. After lunch it was still dry but no warmer as we continued south, but soon we could see the South Downs in the distance, happy knowing we didn't have to go over them. After 3s at Lewes we kept to side roads through Iford and Rodmell to Southease where we turned onto a minor road to South Downs Youth Hostel which had been open for about a week and a half. It is on the A26 and is shown on OS 198 as Itford Farm. It has been nicely converted and is well worth a visit. Our stop coincided with a coachload of Belgian schoolchildren - but they ate after us in the evening and before us next morning - an ideal arrangement.

Next morning we tested the fire alarm by jamming a toaster. Brian led us to Truleigh Hill Hostel via an interesting route.

Friday dawned sunnily. We stopped to admire the wonderful view before riding/walking/slithering down the dry track to Upper Beeding.  After passing through picturesque Bramber and Steyning (too early for 11s) we found quiet lanes to Ashurst and a rather early stop at Dial Post Garden Centre - expanded somewhat since our visit a couple of years ago. Further quiet lanes led to Brooks Green and Barns Green. Now being in more familiar territory we soon arrived at The Sussex Oak at Warnham to find Ian had beaten us to it. After a very enjoyable, generous lunch we returned to Dorking via Capel then went our own ways.

A very enjoyable break with good company - thanks folks.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Missing letters and a link to some photos

Anyone reading my article in the May/June Sou'Wester about a 1984 cycle tour in northern Spain may have noticed that the letter 'n' was missing whenever it should have been present after the letter 'ó' in Spanish words and place names. Where all the 'n's went is a bit of a mystery but I'm happy to advise that they have all been rounded up and reinstated in the online PDF copy of the Sou'Wester which can be viewed from this website.

Thanks to Jeff and Colin Quemby for their forensic work and to Graham for amending the online version.

In addition there are some photos from Part 1 of this tour at this link -
1984 Tour of the Picos de Europa (Part 1)
as well as several taken on my first cycle tour of the Picos de Europa in 1981 at:
1981 Tour of the Picos de Europa


Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Group, 17 April

Henfold - The Haven - Denbies

Appropriately the day started sombrely with a tablecloth limply draped over Leith Hill. Due to hostelling defections, just eleven headed south from Henfold; it should have been 12 but JB cast up in Rusper rather than Rudgwick though how he couldn’t recall. Factoring in a feisty wind, Weare Street, OkewoodHill and Ellens Green got us to lunch at the Blue Ship at the early hour of 12.30. This pub boasts “reduced beer prices of £3.75”! In a room specially set aside, opinions were divided on the great sandwich/meal debate with the Editor once more abstaining.

After a leisurely lunch, we headed further south to the A29 and a lengthier route back. Finally we had the wind and a warming sun; speeds soared as we went through Slinford, Broadbridge Heath and up the long drag beyond Warnham station. The race was now on for Denbies where JB rejoined and the first 10% group discount voucher was spent; more staff than punters or so it seemed. 72 miles door to door.

Easy Riders - 17th April

Easy Riders - 17th April - Ashtead

The Easy Riders met at The St. George’s Centre Ashtead for elevenses.   After the cold weather of previous weeks today was quite Spring like.  A dozen or so of us headed for Ashtead Common, via the level crossing at Ashtead station.  The track across the common was firm and dry although on either side the woods looked very boggy.  We made our way at a leisurely pace across the common to Woodlands Road and then another stretch of woodland to reach Churchside and run down to The Cricketers inn at Stamford Green. The distance across the Common was only about three miles so we were at The Cricketers by 12.00 for an early lunch. After a pleasant lunch Ron kindly agreed to lead all of us to Ewell Court for tea - this was new territory for me so I was happy to let someone else take over.  After a pleasant tea break in the tearooms next to the library we made our separate ways home, Lynda pointing me in the direction for Epsom and Ashtead Common.  It was good to cycle in sunshine again - not a ride of marathon length but a nice day out.

Mike Withers

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roger Mitchell

....has been out of hospital a little while now after his operation. He is quite cheerful, progressing satisfactorily and awaiting his hip operation !


Saturday, April 13, 2013

'Bespoked' Hand Made Bicycle Show, Bristol

Off to Bristol today, to visit 'Bespoked', running for the third year and a growing success.  Plenty of fancy bikes, some good to look at, some good to ride, made from all sorts of materials.  There were wooden bikes, bamboo bikes, titanium bikes and steel bikes - lots of shiny Reynolds 953 stainless.

Ricky Feather did well with 'Best in Show' for the second year running - a very pretty roadster - and Robert Wade got 'Best Road Bike' for his Swallow randonneur.  All the firms you would expect were there - Roberts, Moulton, Condor, Geoff Booker with some fancy trikes; Brooks with saddles and Royce and Middleburn with hubs and fittings.  I didn't see Mercian, who were there last year, but otherwise a full set, including Italian, French and American builders.

It's the place to go if you're shopping for a custom bike, and business is evidently booming.  Full reports on and bikeradar which give you the feel of an interesting day out.


Friday, April 12, 2013

A Group - 10 April 2013

Hunger's End - Tulley's - Denbies

Fourteen riders were at the start at Merstham for today’s ride. The weather, though not exactly balmy, nevertheless was a good bit warmer without the Siberian winds we had the previous week. Our departure was delayed by the first of today’s minor mechanicals, caused by Ray’s rear brakes binding. Mark’s mini tool soon solved the problem, and we were on our way. The route was pretty flat today, the only bit of modest uphill being to get across the A25 ridge. On the descent, the next mechanical occurred, with Hans’s front wheel starting to squeal. While a bit of judicious bolt tightening was dealing with this, Pete’s rear mudguard decided to separate into two sections, resisting efforts to join it together with those stand bys of every cyclist’s tool kit, insulating tape and elastoplast.
These crises being dealt with, we carried on our way, past Outwood Mill, Brickhouse Lane, then into Copthorne, before turning into Old Hollow. This being the ‘A’Group’s Centenary Teetotallers’ Day Out, lunch was taken at Tulley’s Farm,near Turner’s Hill, where we partook of some decent home cooked fare, though I dare say we could have managed a bit more on the liquid front.
Rain had been forecast for the late afternoon, so we didn’t hang about after lunch, as we headed back along the Balcombe Road into Horley, then along the picturesque Lonesome Lane to Reigate, and so through the lanes into Dorking, where we had tea at Denbies.
I got home in the dry, as I hope everybody else did, with 55 miles on the clock, having enjoyed a good workout in very congenial company.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Denbies offer

The A group were handed some 10% off vouchers at Denbies yesterday by the restaurant manager - Allen Kennedy. Seems there is a push to encourage more cycling business. I asked if ride leaders could use them for groups instead of us just using them individually and he agreed. The only request was to email him first with an estimate of likely numbers so he can alert the serving staff to allow the whole group to use a voucher. I will have them in my rack pack so leaders please ask. Allen's email 
or phone 01306 878616 Ext 201.


Easy Riders - 10th April (Maps)

Fuzz and Lynda led the Easy Riders from Walton DC to The Jolly Coopers in Hampton for lunch then on to Ewell Court Library for Tea.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

B Ride 13 April 2013

Coffee was at Merstham, the journey there is quite hilly - about 700 feet of ascent. 14 of us set out, an usually large number since Merstham isn't a popular spot, I'm not sure whether that's because of the hills or because it's too far east. The 14 were: David C, David V, Helene, John A, John S, Pete J, Peter F, Robert, Robin, Rosemary, Stephanie, Terry, Tim and yours truly. I'd chosen to go west to avoid going through Redhill even though it meant a bit on the A217. I hadn't looked at the map carefully enough and failed to notice the contours, it was another 350 feet of ascent. A whizz downhill to Reigate and then on smaller roads, several more hills. Through Leigh and Parkgate to Newdigate where we had lunch at:

The service was on the slow side, the chap serving behaved as if it was his first day. But the food was OK. Opposite the pub is St Peter's of which Pevsner says "C12 and C13 with C15 belfry and north aisle of 1877, restored in C19... " and a good deal more. Here's the church plus some interlopers:

Then due north to Dorking and Leatherhead where we had tea at Annie's after which we went our separate ways. 36 miles from North Cheam to Annie's.

B Group - 10th April

Bernard's ride from Hungers End in Merstham to The Six Bells in Newdigate then home via Annies in Leatherhead
Merstam to The Six Bells (13.7 miiles)
Newdigate to Annies (10.3 miles)

Reigate and the clockwise Tour of South Park

A Group 10th April

Brief sightings of the sun during Rob's ride today, giving some excitement at the possibility of Spring at last.  35.59 miles from elevenses at Merstham to tea at Denbies; lunch at Tulley's Farm, Turner's Hill.  Not a hilly ride, but a good pace - moving average 14 mph and maximum speed  33.9 mph.

Fast out and faster back, to general satisfaction.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Sou'Wester Shirts - Order now

If Geo Osborne has stripped the shirt off your back Cliff has the answer:

"Shirts are available in Summer weight with short or long sleeves both with short zips and Winter weight with full zips and of course long sleeves. Sizing is very important as these shirts are tailored for a snug fit so generally you need a size larger than might think you do. If you intend to wear further layers beneath the shirts please allow for this in the size you order; shirts cannot be returned for errors in ordering the wrong size. Please talk to me if in any doubt.

 Prices..... Summer weight.......short sleeves...............£31.50p
                Summer weight.......long sleeves................£33.90p
                Winter weight          long sleeves................£36 30p

Payment in full is required  with order by cheque and delivery will be five weeks after our full order is placed. I am therefor unable to guarantee delivery by any particular date.

  Please order now including your winter shirts for next year - it's sure to be another cold one!!"


Thursday, April 04, 2013

A Group 3 April

Cobham - Puttenham - W. Horsley

Eleven pilgrims good and strong (John really is there) follow Paul, leave the Slough of Despond to climb the Hill of Difficulty and sup (Alligator for me) at the Inn of Good Intent.

A Group - 3 April

After a few weeks of hill training, I thought a meander along the flat lands might be in order. Well, not so much a meander but a pacey ride to keep warm on a bitterly cold April morning. So, out from Cobham, past the Muddy Duck and on to Ripley. Skirted the edge of Old Woking left at Normandy and over the Hog's Back to The Good Intent at Puttenham. Fantastic pub: 6 Real ales, extensive well priced menu, and service so prompt the food arrived at the table before some of us did! Definitely a pub to use again!

After lunch it was up the Hill of Pain to the A3/A31 junction above Guildford picking up Susstrans 22 for a short off road stretch before descending the Hill of Fear into Guildford. Brakes duly tested, we headed up the Cobbles and on to the A25 for another pacey stretch to the West Horsley garden centre.

A nice 12.8mph rolling average for the day with the pacey morning being around 15mph

Paul Kelly

Leader request - April 24th B's

Would anyone like to volunteer to lead the B's from Shepperton on April 24th?  Thanks. Brian

Easy Riders - 3rd April

After coffee and birthday cake from Cliff; we set off from Cobham on a cold and very windy day.  We made our way back to Blackhills, gates still opened for us; (but think our days are numbered, due to the No Cyclists sign in there), and crossed the road to go into Arbrook Common.  They are cutting trees and tidying up branches; so it is a very pleasant route.  We came out to Claygate then up Stevens Lane and turned left for Long Ditton.  Just before Hampton Court we crossed the main road and went down Summers Road, took a right over the bridge and another right over the mini roundabout at E. Molesey to our destination at The Albion.  At lunch, we were Sandy, Cliff, John C., Les, Tom, myself; and Fuzz joined us a little later.  They are doing a meal deal there - 2 meals for under £8,  which were ample.  Four of us then made our way to Ewell Court Tearooms for an afternoon stop.  I clocked 33 mls; which I thought was good for such a cold day. 


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

B Group - 3rd April

A Carry On up the Congo

We arrived in Cobham to find that Cliff was already there and that he had opened a tab at the bar so that we could all enjoy a hot beverage and a high octane chocolate brownie to celebrate his birthday. Thus fortified, a small but dedicated group of eleven set off. 

After yesterday's Springlike sunshine I had imagined that we might finally be able to turn out in our shorts for today's ride but I was cruelly deceived.

As Spike Milligan may have mused:

     During these cold North-Easterlies
     I don't care who it might please
     to see my knobbly knees;
     I'm keeping them well wrapped up,
     sheltered from the Arctic breeze

We took one of the standard rural routes out of Cobham, through Hatchford and Ockham Lane. Then Guileshill Lane, Grove Heath and Send. We skirted around Old Woking on the A247 which we left for Wych Hill Lane and St Johns. We finally escaped from the traffic onto St John’s Lye Festival Path. Near the end of this lane, by the foot bridge which crosses the Basingstoke canal to Hermitage Woods Crescent we turned into the path along the South side of the canal and slowed down to enjoy its atmosphere.

At Hermitage Road we crossed to the North bank of the canal until the A322 (Bagshot Road) from which we turned into Cemetery Pales and zoomed along to Pirbright Green with the most favourable wind we had all day.

Although posher than many of the pubs we visit we were made to feel very welcome at the White Hart and served very nice food by the cheerful and efficient staff. We should definitely go there again; the area where we were seated could accommodate up to 25 of us if we let them know we’re coming.

After lunch some may have been perplexed to find themselves continuing in a Westerly direction when we turned into Church Lane to visit the grave of Henry Morton Stanley, in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels. Although regarded as Africa’s greatest explorer his reputation will always remain tarnished by his succumbing to the deceit and exploitation by Leopold II and through this naivety, despite his own more benign vision for Africa’s future and his affection for African people, he helped to pave the way for the greatest atrocities ever committed against Africans by Europeans.

In Stanley Hill we caught glimpses over the high walls of the vast house known as Furzehill Place where Sir Henry Morton Stanley lived during his old age with his wife who had bullied him into politics and thwarted his desire to return to Africa where he had always felt most at home. Furzhill Place is currently on the market for less than £7,000,000.

The map suggested that we had entered a small piece of Africa, with names like Manyuema, Ruwenzori Hill and Mazamboni Farm and even a blue squiggle to represent the Congo Stream. However the truth was that we just had to imagine the thundering cascades of the mighty river, the ancient peoples, the sweltering humidity, and all the creatures populating the luxuriant canopy above us. Even the great Stanley Pool, which we could glimpse through the undergrowth, seemed to be nothing more than a stagnant pond bearing no resemblance to the large swelling of the Congo River known originally as Lake Nkunda and now as Pool Malebo. At the end of the day it really felt as if we had never left Surrey.

Knowing from the map that it could be dangerous to head any further west we turned eastward onto the B3012, ducked under the railway line to take the small path across the canal, and followed Brunswick Road around before descending onto another very nice stretch of the Basingstoke Canal Path  and noted the very recent progress that had been made with the installation of new gates at one of the locks.

At the Bagshot road we left the canal and headed up through Knaphill and Littlewick and then Woodham and Addlestone to our Tea destination in Weybridge, a cozy little café called Boho where we settled in very comfortably for our afternoon refreshment. 

Thanks to David Cox for doing the recce with me on a rainy Monday and for being back marker today. Thanks to everyone for their good company and for staying the course.

And a big Happy Birthday to Cliff !

B Ride 3 April 2013

We had a pleasant lunch here:

... followed by "Stanley, I presume"

Cycle Jumble - Ripley Village Hall 13 April

Message from Vic: The VCC are holding their Spring Cycle Jumble at Ripley Village Hall on Saturday 13 April, from 9:30 onwards.   If you want a table (as a seller), contact John Lattimore on 01932 247614.

A Group 3rd April

Paul put a spring in our step today, with Spring itself still missing from a ride that would have been cold had it been slower.  He has asked me to split out the telemetry from the rapid outward leg (missing out the Hogs Back, which rather dented the average), and the slower homeward leg.

So, 30.74 miles from elevenses at Cobham to tea at Squires, West Horsley, with lunch at the Good Intent, Puttenham. Rolling average 11.8mph and 1,377 calories.

A good day out.